What to Ask Associations beyond Will You Be Rebooking

Press Room > 2020

By GainingEdge Advisory

Destination management organisations, convention visitor bureaus and convention bureaus, are focused on generating business demand from the marketplace.  As an integral component of the supply side, the value of a DMO and CVB has long been measured by the ability to ensure a steady flow of group business into the destination.

For the most part, DMOs and CVBs have traditionally acted as supplier representatives in the relationship between buyers and sellers with business demand severely curtailed because of COVID-19, destinations are scrambling to determine how best to create value now and in the future.

We suggest DMOs and CVBs need to ensure that in addition to lead generation and bid development expertise, they also work to help associations deliver on their purpose.  A good place to start is, understanding why an association exists in the first place, and then building your destination’s value proposition with that at the core.

Destinations that understand associations from the ‘inside out’, rather than the ‘outside in’, will be in a much stronger position to recover and rebound from this crisis.  In a risk adverse world, building strategic relationships with associations will have a longer-term benefit than those that are purely transactional.  Being a solid partner builds trust and loyalty, which can lead to new and repeat business and a strong brand reputation.

The following are queries the DMO and CVB should ask to expand their insight into the association:

  • What is the vision and mission of your association? How can we help you continue to progress towards your vision now and moving forward?

At the outset, a DMO and CVB should endeavor to find out the essence of the association, why it exists and what the association hopes to accomplish as a result of its activities.  Associations do not exist to meet; they are created for an essential purpose. Conferences and meetings are not an end in themselves, but a means to an end. Asking your client of the higher-level aim of their association, and exploring ways to contribute to this goal, will create a stronger sense of trust that the destination is not just out to sell but is there to help.

  • How is the crisis impacting your industry or sector?

DMOs and CVBs should conduct research and inquire into the impact of COVID-19 on the industry or sector most relevant to the association. This background will provide context when speaking to the association of their issues and opportunities in the near to immediate term. Determining COVID-19 impacts on the broader sector will enable the destination to discuss implications on the association in an informed way.

  • How will the current crisis affect your business practices such as your meetings, exhibition and sponsorship or membership strategies in the short and long term?

The COVID-19 situation is forcing associations to confront realities that will impact on fundamental operational matters now and in the future.  DMOs and CVBs that try to get a better understanding of the association’s situation, including not only their events, will offer a closer glimpse into what matters most to the association as it works its way through this crisis.  One of the most important considerations will be whether associations that once met globally will now be adjusting to more regional meetings.

  • Are you considering any adjustments to your events model or format to facilitate remote participation of attendees at your events?

As remote meetings take hold, deep discussions are being held within and between associations on how best to bring their members and stakeholders together for meetings in the future.  The earlier DMOs and CVBs have discussions with clients about what that might look like will better prepare the destination to meet these needs.  Destinations that offer solutions to associations that facilitate engagement of remote, along with in-person, will be better positioned to succeed.

  • How will your event programme be impacted by the crisis for example exchange of content to respond to new market priorities as a result of the current crisis?

As connectors between the association and the destination, DMOs and CVBs are able to help client’s source local expertise and knowledge that enhance the content offerings of the event.  It is worth discussing how the current situation is shifting topics of interest with the association, so the destination can identify relevant people and organizations of interest in their community that will assist in being prepared for future opportunities.

Destinations and associations that find a place where purpose and intent intersect will be better positioned to support one another in achieving mutual results during and after COVID-19.  Clients will seek DMOs and CVBs that have a firm grasp of their pain points and goals. Destinations are likely to retain and be recommended by clients to whom they provide value, and hence will provide them a competitive advantage.